story by Lisa-Maria Radano
photos by Charles Beckwith
“We like the idea that something is constructed and crisp, but at the same time is floaty and easy.” These were the calm and precise words of Nicole Colovos, minutes before presenting the Helmut Lang Spring 2014 collection, which she designed with her husband, Michael Colovos. Crisp. Sharp. Pure. Clean. These were the touchstone words for the collection. The beautiful tension between construction and ease originated in natural fabrics like chintzed silk, twisted linen, and cotton waxed or in simple white shirting. Even the leather, in either matte or perforated treatment, looked cool and comfy, bonded like the wool pieces to soft jersey to create comfortable effortless efficiency.
Before speaking to the charming and attractive life and design duo, I was understandably asked to refrain from questions with reference to Mr. Lang’s legacy. On the runway, perfect trousers, muscle t-shirts, unlined jackets with and without sleeves, and slip dresses in fuchsia with impossibly delicate spaghetti straps seemed, however, put Mr. Lang very definitely in the room, but very much with the Colovos stamp. Deft cutting made for effortless shapes that floated away from the body. Crewnecks were prevalent but there were also v-necks, one shoulder and a few strapless. Those almost unbearably thin spaghetti straps hoisted up squared off slip dresses with blocks of color patching in varied shapes. Wrapped skirts hit below the knee, with a few leather minis.
Pants were slouchy, but finely honed assembly prevented them looking messy. Unlined jackets both with and without sleeves provided focus and a few had clever waistline slits to both reveal and toss a curve. And of course, there were many clever and desirable
Creativity was abundant but the clothes never veered into the unwearable. The convertible and practical pieces could easily take a woman from day to night, work to play.
“Freedom and comfort is very modern. We look for beauty in the practical. And
anyway, when it’s July and it’s hot, that’s what you want,” said Michael.
This ethos was especially notable in the new line of Helmut Lang shoes. Slides, menswear inspired loafers, kitten heels, and a very wearable higher heel were done in lightweight python and perforated leather to provide coolness, and elastic bands gave unbinding support. Each pair was a perfect example of practicality in motion as beauty. “When a woman’s feet are happy she moves better.” The couple also introduced a corresponding array of clutches and satchels in python and leather.
During the rehearsal for what would be a truly perfect show, a producer had the girls practice their walk down the shiny concrete runway. As they came down one side and made the turn to go up the other, he hollered, “Ninety degrees, girls! Don’t cut your corners!” After all, the designers certainly didn’t.